Violence / Raids / Clashes / Suppression of protests / Arrests
Israeli forces suppress West Bank marches
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 23 Jan — Israeli military forces suppressed nonviolent marches in the occupied West Bank on Friday, witnesses said. In Bil‘in, Israeli soldiers used live fire, rubber-coated steel bullets and tear gas canisters to suppress protesters. Activist Muhammad Adbi Abu Rahmeh was shot in the head with a rubber-coated bullet and taken to the Palestine Medical Center for treatment. Rahmen and Iyad Burnat, prominent activists from Bil‘in, were hit by tear gas canisters. The march began after Friday prayers and commemorated the anniversary of the Egyptian revolution against authoritarianism.
Meanwhile, Israeli forces suppressed a protest organized by the Palestinian National Initiative in the Hebron village of Susiya. Soldiers reportedly assaulted the secretary-general of the party, Mustafa Barghouthi, and other activists. Dozens suffered tear gas inhalation and four were detained. The coordinator of the Palestinian National Initiative in Hebron, Youssef Tmeizi, said the demonstration was part of a series of activities under the banner “If they chop down a tree, we will plant a hundred.”
‘We will hit your wife, your daughter, and your kids’
BEIT UMMAR, Occupied Palestine (ISM, Khalil Team) 22 Jan — Early Tuesday morning January 20, 2015 at 3:00 AM, Israeli occupation forces invaded the home of the Abu Maria family in the village of Beit Ummar. The occupation army used explosives to open the front door, surprising the sleeping family. This is the second violent night raid the family has experienced this week. Israeli soldiers were looking for Nidal, Ghassan, and Mohammed Abu Maria, three brothers who were summoned by the Israeli intelligence for questioning. The mother of the family, 42 years old, was attacked as soon as the invading soldiers entered the home. Her arms were violently jerked behind her back, and once she was tied up, she was beaten on her head, neck and arms. One of the family’s five sons, Mohye, 18 years old, was cut on his face, neck and fingers. The attacking soldiers demanded he tell them where his brothers were. The family’s father, Ahmed Abu Maria, has been imprisoned by the Israeli occupation forces for four months. The morning of the attack, Ahmed was taken into interrogation where Israeli investigators informed him that his family would be targeted that night. Ahmed related that he was told: “Tonight we will go to your family’s home. We will hit your wife, your daughter and your kids.” He was not allowed to warn or communicate these threats in any way to his family. The next day, Ahmed was allowed to contact his family and hear what happened to them during the night raid. The family describes this as psychological torture, designed to put pressure on the imprisoned father … During the violent invasion at the Abu Maria’s house, the occupation forces also searched the neighboring uncle’s home for the youths. When they did not find the boys there as expected, and the family refused to tell the authorities exactly where they were living, the occupation forces stole over 3000 NIS (approximately $760 USD) from the uncle. This money was his life savings; without it, he does not know how he will survive.
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 24 Jan – Israeli troops stormed the southern West Bank city of Hebron early Saturday morning and apprehended four Palestinian teenage boys after raiding their homes in the city center. They were released several hours later. Palestinian security sources identified the detainees as Amjad Tariq Irfaiyya, 16, Hashim Nazeeh Dufish, 16, Muhannad Idrees, 17, and Hijazi Abd al-Jalil Deis, 16. Israeli troops also set up military checkpoints at the northern entrance to the city known locally as “Jurat Bahlas.” Checkpoints were also set near the towns of Sa‘ir and Halhul and al-Fawwar refugee camp. Witnesses told Ma‘an that Israeli soldiers stopped Palestinian vehicles and checked ID cards of passengers.
Palestinian youths clash with Israeli troops around Jerusalem
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 24 Jan — Clashes broke out Friday afternoon between Israeli forces and young Palestinian men in the East Jerusalem neighborhoods of Wadi al-Juz and al-Tur as well as the towns of Abu Dis and al-Ezariya in Jerusalem district, a local spokesman said. Hani Halabiya, a spokesman of resistance committees in Jerusalem district, told Ma‘an that fierce clashes broke out in Abu Dis and al-Ezariya during which Israeli troops detained five Palestinian youths. They were held in a police station in the Israeli settlement of Maale Addumim and in a military base known as al-Jabal (the mountain) for several hours before they were released. Rami Illariyya, a freelance journalist who was among the detainees, said more than 10 Israeli soldiers assaulted him and the other detainees. “They stopped me while I was doing my job in al-Ezariyya, beating me and kicking me violently, then they assaulted me again while I was held at Maale Addumim police station,” he explained. Clashes were also reported in al-Tur neighborhood on the Mount of Olives in East Jerusalem. Witnesses said Israeli troops showered houses in the area with tear gas which reached al-Maqasid hospital. The soldiers detained a young man near the hospital, beating him violently. Fifteen more youths were forced to squat in the middle of the street at a junction about 100 meters from the hospital. In Wadi al-Juz neighborhood, Israeli special forces broke in firing tear gas and stun grenades in the narrow alleys. No detentions or assaults were reported there.
Druze attacked by gang of Jews in Jerusalem after speaking Arabic
Ynet 23 Jan by Roi Yanovsky — A Druze student was brutally attacked by a group of ten Jewish men in Jerusalem on Thursday – reportedly after they heard that he was speaking Arabic. What Tommy Hasson‘s assailants did not know was that they were attacking a young man who had just completed his IDF service three months ago and recently moved to Jerusalem to study music. The men, who were wearing skullcaps, hit the 21-year-old Druze student and broke a glass bottle on him. Hasson was hospitalized suffering from bruises on his face and on the back of his head … President Reuven Rivlin, who knew Hasson from his days in the IDF, called Hasson’s father to show his support for the family. Hasson’s father, Ramzi, was shocked by the incident. “On a personal level I believed up until now that this is one nation – I never saw a difference between a Jew and a Druze. I believed and I will continue to believe in the future that this is the land of the Jewish nation – it has a right to live here. There was never doubt about this. I blame myself (and) I blame my Jewish friends for not doing enough to educate. To speak Arabic is not shameful – it does not make you a potential terrorist,” said Ramzi. Tommy’s brother, Julian, said: “A month ago two Druze police officers were murdered during terror attacks and now a Druze gets hit by Jews. When we were asked if we were scared that Tommy lives in Jerusalem we said no, because he lives next to Jews.”
Bus driver who fought off terrorist recovering after life-saving surgery
Ynet 22 Jan by Yaron Kelner, Itay Blumenthal — The 62-year-old bus driver, Herzl Biton, who was seriously wounded in the Tel Aviv stabbing attack on Wednesday has regained consciousness and is on the road to recovery according to medical staff at the Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center. Despite progress in Biton’s condition, he is still attached to a respirator and in serious condition – he underwent emergency surgery. The veteran bus driver was repeatedly stabbed in the stomach which caused damaged to his inner organs. Along with Biton in the intensive care unit (ICU), is a 69-year-old woman, one of Biton’s passengers on Bus 40, who is in serious condition and still fighting for her life
Israeli forces raid homes in Qalqiliya
[with photos] QALQILIYA (Ma‘an) 23 Jan — Israeli forces early Friday raided Qalqiliya in the northern West Bank and searched the homes of several Palestinians, a local resident told Ma‘an. Khalil Ibrahim al-Dura said that a number of Israeli soldiers and police dogs entered his home around 2:00 a.m. The soldiers ordered him to take every member of his family out of the house, then proceeded to “brutally” search [trash] each room, al-Dura said. After the soldiers finished searching, they moved to the home of his son-in-law, Salah Daoud al-Kafarneh, where they conducted a similar raid.
Settler runs over 5-year-old Palestinian near Tulkarem
TULKAREM (Ma ‘an) 23 Jan — A settler car ran over a five-year-old Palestinian child near Tulkarem on Friday, medics said. Yamen Nabil Mahmoud, five, from Shufa village was hit by the vehicle on a bypass road south of the West Bank city. The child was taken to a local hospital for treatment, where he is said to be in a moderate condition. The circumstances behind the incident are unclear. In December, a 10-year-old Palestinian boy was injured after an Israeli settler ran him over on the main road of the Palestinian village of Tuqu‘ south east of Bethlehem. Months earlier, a settler ran over two Palestinian children as they walked near near Ramallah, killing 5-year-old Einas Khalil.
Report: Stones thrown at settler car in northern West Bank
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 23 Jan — Stones were hurled at a car belonging to Israeli settlers as they drove near the illegal settlement of Ofra in the northern West Bank on Friday, Israeli media reported. The Israeli news site Ynet said two Israeli settlers, a mother and a daughter, were lightly hurt when stones hit their car. They reached the entrance of the settlement, where they were treated by Israeli paramedics, and later went to the hospital. Israeli soldiers are searching the area, the Ynet report said.
Police: Car attempts to run over Israeli forces near Nablus
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 22 Jan — A car tried to run over Israeli border guards at the Tappuah checkpoint south of Nablus on Thursday, Israeli police said. Spokeswoman Luba Samri said that a vehicle with two passengers drove towards border guards at high speed near the checkpoint, bypassing a queue of cars awaiting inspection. The car swerved into the path of Israeli forces, who fired warning shots before pursuing the vehicle. The car was later found abandoned and police say it was stolen.
Soldiers open fire on Palestinian car near Nablus
IMEMC/Agencies 23 Jan by Saed Bannoura — Israeli soldiers opened fire, on Thursday evening, on a Palestinian car at the Huwwara military roadblock, south of the northern West Bank city of Nablus, allegedly after the driver failed to stop, and “attempted to ram a soldier.” Israeli media sources quoted an army spokesperson claiming a young Palestinian man was speeding towards the roadblock, and that the soldiers opened fire after the driver “failed to heed to the soldiers commands to stop.” The driver managed to escape unharmed, while the army claimed the car he was driving is a stolen vehicle. The soldiers are still searching for the driver, the army said. In related news, soldiers closed the Za’tara roadblock, south of Nablus, allegedly after shots were fired at the soldiers from a Palestinian car.
Israeli forces interrogate worshipers after dawn prayer near Nablus
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 22 Jan — Israeli forces raided the northern West Bank village of Asira al-Shamaliya near Nablus Thursday morning and questioned several worshipers after they exited a mosque following dawn prayers. Witnesses told Ma‘an that Israeli troops stormed the village and surrounded Abu Khalil Mosque as worshipers arrived for prayers around 5:30 a.m. The soldiers allowed all of the worshipers to enter the mosque, but when they left, the soldiers stopped eight of them for questioning … Israeli troops also broke into home of a local man named Anas Jamalan who was previously held as a prisoner in Israeli jails. They delivered a summons demanding that he appear at an Israeli military center for interrogation. Soldiers also entered and ransacked the homes of Ismat Shuli and Muhammad Sidqi Saadah during the raid.
‘Isawiya leader receives death threat over activism
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) – A Zionist organization has sent a Palestinian activist from the East Jerusalem town of al-‘Isawiya a letter threatening to kill him if he doesn’t leave the area. Hani Isawi, 63, said during a visit to the Ma‘an office in Bethlehem that he received a written letter in English from a purported Zionist organization calling itself Pulsa Di Noura. The letter, he said, asked him either to leave al-‘Isawiya or die. Isawi is a member of a local committee for defending the town’s lands. “Neither such a letter, nor the Israeli occupation’s practices, could push us to even think of leaving or cede a span of the hand of our land,” Isawi told Ma‘an. The citizens of al-‘Isawiya, he added, have been suffering seriously as a result of the tough practices and restrictions imposed by the Israeli municipality of Jerusalem on the one hand and the assaults and plots by the extremist Zionist groups on the other hand. Nevertheless, the residents are adamant to remain firm on their lands despite all restrictions and plots, he said. Isawi added that Israeli police had set up an almost permanent checkpoint at the western entrance to the town since the latest military offensive on the Gaza Strip. Police officers at this checkpoint search passersby almost every day using police dogs. The envelope in which the letter was sent to Isawi included seeds of citrus fruits. About two weeks ago, the mayor of Hebron and a school principal in the city received similar letters.
Most Palestinians restrain themselves, despite Israel’s plunder / Amira Hass
Haaretz 22 Jan — Unlike a few individuals, they channel their wrath and loathing into nonviolent action like the BDS and ICC movements — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman are deceiving the Israeli public, as usual. There is no need for “incitement” by Palestinian Authority officials or Israeli-Arab public figures to make a young Palestinian man stab a dozen or so people in a frenzy. There is no need for outside elements to encourage a young Palestinian man to carry out a revenge campaign at the risk of being killed or deprived of his freedom for many years. Whatever the life circumstances of Hamza Mohammed Hasan Matrouk, the anger, loathing and desire for revenge seething within him are all his. Nor is there a need for a particular “atmosphere.” The “atmosphere” was there all the time, from the moment Matrouk was born in the Tul Karm refugee camp, and even before. Its creators: the Israel Defense Forces, the Civil Administration, the Shin Bet security service, the Defense Ministry, the settlements and their inhabitants, the IDF’s watchtowers, the barbed-wire fences. “Atmosphere” is a misleading word. This is reality, a reality that Israeli Jews refuse to acknowledge even though it’s of their own making. After all, in democratic elections they voted the policy-makers in, and if they had wanted, they could have learned about the lives of non-Jews under the Israeli regime. If there is incitement, this is its source: the supremacy of a nation convinced it has the right to interfere in and sabotage the life of the inferior Palestinian nation — its future, past, economy, money, assets and family and social relationships.
[VID] Street talk: What do you think about home demolitions?
Israeli Social TV 23 Jan — Whenever there is a terrorist attack in Israel, somebody on the political level starts talking about demolishing the terrorist family’s home as punishment and deterrence. Social TV hit the streets of Tel Aviv and asked the public what they think, and put that against Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions chairman Jeff Halper.
Prisoners / Court actions
Israel sentences and fines 14-year-old girl
Middle East Monitor 12 Jan — The Israeli military court in Ofer sentenced the imprisoned 14-year-old Malak Al-Khatib, from Betin in Ramallah, to two months in prison and fined her $1,528, the Ahrar Centre for the Study of Prisoners and Human Rights reported. Al-Khatib’s family told Ahrar, in an exclusive interview, that the court issued the sentence after striking a deal. Malak, an eighth grader in school, was arrested on December 31, near her school for allegedly throwing rocks at the occupation forces. Israel extended her detention twice and she was transferred to HaSharon Prison. The Director of the Ahrar Centre Fouad Al-Khafsh condemned the sentence saying he considered it unfair. He said the sentence does not take into account that Malak is a child who is already suffering psychologically due to her extended imprisonment. Al-Khafsh stated that the centre launched a campaign in cooperation with legal and media organisations to pressure authorities to release her. The charges against Malak include throwing rocks, obstructing the road and the possession of a knife. She has been imprisoned for 22 consecutive days.
Israeli court releases guards suspected of shooting at Palestinians
RAMALLAH (WAFA) 22 Jan – An Israeli court Thursday released two security guards stationed at the illegal settlement of Itamar, southeast of Nablus, a day after their arrest under the pretext of firing at two Palestinians earlier in January. According to the Israeli Army Radio, the court decided to release two security guards, arguing that they ‘aimed at the open air and didn’t intend to shoot the two Palestinians.’ The security guards accompanied by the army earlier in January attempted to arrest four Palestinians and during the arrest the guards opened fire on two, injuring them. Fuad Al-Khafsh, the director of Ahrar center for prisoners’ studies and human rights, said ‘All of the Palestinians who were killed or injured [by Israelis] were released. [intended to be [‘All Israelis who kill or injure Palestinians are released’?] This promotes the killing of Palestinians by Israeli security guards with ease.’ The two Palestinians who were shot were sustained moderate injuries and the two then-suspects were referred to the Magistrate’s Court in Petah Tikva, East of Yaffa to extend their detention pending an ongoing investigation.
9 youths still in police custody after Bedouin protests
BEERSHEBA (Ma‘an) 22 Jan — Nine Palestinian citizens of Israel remain in detention in the wake of protests against the killing of two Bedouin men by Israeli police in the last 10 days, local activists said. Activists from the Negev told Ma‘an Thursday that they planned to take action if the detainees were not freed by police. Leaders of the Arab community in Negev, they added, should stand by the detainees because their only crime was to express opposition to “the violent treatment of Arabs in the Negev by Israeli police, which resulted in the killings of Sami al-Jaara and Sami al-Zayadnah.” A court in the southern Israeli city of Beersheba was scheduled Thursday to consider a request submitted by Israeli police to extend the remand of nine Arab teenagers and young men who were arrested. They were detained in the 24 hours following clashes which broke out in the majority-Bedouin city of Rahat amid the funerals of the two men … Lawyer Ben Berry told Ma‘an that he was worried Israeli police and the prosecution might apply a newly-approved Israeli law which allows judges to impose heavy punishment on those found throwing stones. He highlighted that several lawyers and human rights activists such as al-Mizan would volunteer to plead on behalf of the detainees, though some of them had also hired private lawyers.
Israeli forces free sick Palestinian prisoner from Beit Ummar
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 22 Jan — Israeli authorities on Wednesday evening released a sick Palestinian prisoner who was being held at Ofer detention center, the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society said. In a statement, the group said that Jaafar Awad, 23, from Beit Ummar north of Hebron, was transferred in a Palestinian ambulance to al-Ahli hospital in Hebron. He had been suffering from pneumonia as well as diabetes and gland problems for the last two months, and was being kept at Assaf Harofeh hospital by prison authorities in Israel. He was welcomed outside Ofer detention center on Wednesday by a number of his family members in addition to Qaddura Faris, the chairman of the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society, and the group’s general manager Abdul-al al-Anani. As Awad arrived at al-Ahli hospital, large numbers of Beit Ummar residents awaited him outside as well as the president of the Palestinian Department of Prisoners’ Affairs Issa Qaraqe, Minister of Health Jawad Awwad and a number of other local officials. Israeli authorities freed Awad after an appeal submitted by the director of the Prisoners’ Society’s legal department. An Israeli court on Wednesday approved the prisoner’s release after more than 14 months of imprisonment beginning in Nov. 2013. The court stipulated that as a condition of his release he pay a fine of 40,000 shekels ($102,000) and be placed under probation for 18 months.
Palestinian man enters 34th year in Israeli detention
IMEMC/Agencies 21 Jan — World Bulletin reports, via Al Ray Palestinian Media Agency, that Maher Younis, who hails from the northern Israeli town of Arara, has now completed his 33rd year in an Israeli jail, according to the Palestinian Prisoners Society. PPS said that Younis was arrested in 1983, as part of a group of other people arrested prior to the signing of the Oslo Accord between Palestinians and Israelis, in 1993. The accord calls for the release, at the end of March, 2014, of Palestinian prisoners, but Israel has refused to honor this requirement, further impeding and ultimately suspending peace talks with the Palestinians. Younis, now 57 years old, is the second longest-serving Palestinian prisoner in Israeli jails. Another prisoner, Karim Younis, was jailed earlier in the same year. Both prisoners are currently serving a life sentence at Hadarim Detention Center in northern Israel, PPS further stated. Maher is accused of belonging to the Palestinian political faction Fateh, of killing an Israeli soldier and of possessing a weapon. Karim Younis is accused of killing an Israeli soldier. Israel had agreed to release Palestinian prisoners detained before the 1993 Oslo Accord in return for a refrain, by the Palestinian Authority, from seeking membership in the United Nations and other international institutions. The Israeli government, however, has refused to release the prisoners, saying they held Israeli nationality and are, thus, technically Israeli citizens and subject to different laws.
Nice story (we need one)
Israeli settler and Palestinian cooperate to save horned owl
[with video, photos] Ynet 23 Jan by Erez Erlichman — Settlement security guard Yosef Eliyahu found an injured owl and was joined by Palestinian Eyad Beduwan to rescue the rare bird of prey — In the early hours of Tuesday morning Yosef Eliyahu, a security guard at the Har Adar Israeli settlement, was driving along his routine security route when he spotted what he thought at first was a beautiful statue of a bird – but at closer observation he saw that the statue was actually a horned owl which was unable to take flight due to an injury. “I saw that it had a string that got tied up in its wing. It was the first time that I saw a bird of prey that was so large,” Eliyahu continued … Eliyahu, who lives in the Nes Harim Moshav, has been working as a security guard at the Har Adar settlement for give years. After notifying the West Bank’s parks and recreation manager of his find, Eyad Beduwan, a Palestinian who lives in one of the adjacent villages and works at the operations unit at the local council, was called in to help save the horned owl. “First, Eyad and I furthered away curious onlookers so that they would not scare the owl. The plastic string was very strong, and got tangled up in its wing. In the beginning, it was hard to see the string but in the end Eyad and I were able to release it and we put (the owl) in a box until parks and recreation came to get him.”We see a lot of nocturnal birds in the area but they are usually smaller and I’m happy we could help him,” said Eliyahu … The horned owl [one commenter claims it’s an eagle owl] was kept at the hospital for a day and then released back to his natural habitat. After the rescuers took off the towel wrapping the owl, it spread its wings and disappeared into the night.
Israeli forces fire on Gaza fishermen, injuring one
IMEMC/Agencies 21 Jan — Israeli forces shot and injured a Palestinian fisherman in Gaza on Wednesday, according to the head of a local union. Nizar Ayyash told Ma‘an News Agency that Atef Muhammad Baker, age 19, was shot in the foot after the Israeli navy opened fire on fishing boats off Gaza’s northern coast. The fishermen were again within the Israeli-imposed fishing zone at the time of the incident, Ayyash added. However, an Israeli army spokesperson claimed that several vessels deviated from the designated fishing zone, with Israeli forces opening fire after they failed to respond to warning shots. Baker was taken to hospital for treatment.
Israeli navy opens fire on Gaza fishing boats
IMEMC/Agencies 22 Jan — Israeli navy ships opened fire, on Thursday at dawn, on a number of Palestinian fishing boats in the Sudaniyya Sea, northwest of Gaza City, and forced the fishers back to shore. Eyewitnesses said the navy ships chased small Palestinian fishing boats, and fired several rounds of live ammunition, causing damage but no injuries. The boats were within the six nautical miles allocated for the Palestinians for fishing, but the navy frequently attacks within this zone, and in many cases while [the boats are] still docked on the Gaza shore. The fishers had to sail back to the shore without being able to fish and provide daily bread for their families. The attack comes one day after Israeli navy vessels opened fire on Palestinian boats in the same area, moderately wounding two fishermen who were moved to the Shifa Hospital in Gaza City. The current six-nautical-mile fishing zone falls drastically short of the twenty nautical miles allocated to Palestinian fishermen under 1993 Oslo Accords.
Egyptian navy shoots, injures Gaza fisherman
CAIRO (Ma‘an) 23 Jan — Egyptian naval forces on Friday shot and injured a Palestinian fisherman that allegedly entered Egyptian waters south of Gaza, officials in Egypt said. Egypt’s navy spotted a Palestinian boat with two fishermen crossing into its territorial waters off the coast near Sheikh Zuweid in northern Sinai. Naval forces demanded that it stop, but the fishermen continued to flee the area and Egyptian forces opened fire. Ihab Zuheir Hassan al-Amuri, 35, was shot in the stomach while the other unidentified fisherman was arrested and taken for interrogation.
Egypt frees 45 Gazans imprisoned after trying to flee to Europe
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 22 Jan — Egyptian authorities on Wednesday evening released 45 Palestinians from the Gaza Strip who had been in custody for several months after they crossed into Egypt without documents hoping to travel by sea to Europe. Sources in the Interior Ministry of the former Hamas-run government told a Ma‘an reporter in Gaza City that the freed detainees were transferred to the Gaza Strip Wednesday after spending several months in Egyptian prisons. The majority of the detainees were arrested after they crossed into Egypt without documents but were unable to leave for Europe by sea. About three weeks ago, another group of Gazan detainees were freed from Egyptian custody under similar circumstances. Thousands of Gazans are thought to have escaped via tunnels to Egypt in order to flee the nearly two-month Israeli offensive that left more than 2,000 dead and 110,000 homeless in the tiny coastal enclave. Egyptian authorities have in recent months promised to crack down on the flow and have arrested record numbers of Palestinians fleeing Gaza. But the devastation wreaked by the Israeli bombardment and the continued siege have dimmed Gaza’s economic prospects for the near future, and even as Egypt continues to crack down on movement of goods and people through tunnels, the tide is likely to continue. 2014 saw a surge in the numbers of migrants attempting to make the hazardous crossing from across North Africa and the Middle East to Europe. The UN’s refugee agency UNHCR said in mid-December that 384,000 people had tried the crossing since the beginning of the year, of whom more than 4,000 died while attempting the journey.
Egypt closes Rafah crossing
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 22 Jan — Egyptian authorities on Thursday closed the Rafah crossing after it had been temporarily opened for three days. Palestinian crossing officials told Ma‘an that 830 Palestinians in Gaza used the crossing, which was reopened on Tuesday. There was no indication from Egypt when it will be reopened again. The crossing has been closed almost completely — save for a few days — since it was closed in October after an attack on Egyptian police by militants in Sinai. The Palestinian Ministry of Internal Affairs says over 25,000 humanitarian cases are on a waiting list to use the crossing for medical treatment and to continue their studies abroad.
somewhat different numbers, although quite inadequate in either case:
Egypt re-closes Rafah crossing after allowing 1507 passengers to leave Gaza
PNN/Gaza 23 Jan — Egyptian authorities re-closed Rafah crossing on Thursday evening after opening it exceptionally for 3 days to allow humanitarian cases to cross. Border Crossing Commission in Gaza reported in a statement on Thursday that 1507 passengers were allowed to leave Gaza through Rafah crossing during the 3 days. including patients, students, and foreign passport holders. The commission added that 5-6 travel buses were allowed to cross the border per day. The commission also stated that 1220 citizens that were stuck on the Egyptian side of the border were finally allowed to enter Gaza, while the Egyptian Authorities without stating any valid reasons prevented 114 citizens from traveling during the 3 days period.
PA embassy: Hamas prevented students from leaving Gaza
CAIRO (Ma‘an) 23 Jan — The Palestinian Authority embassy in Cairo on Friday accused Hamas of preventing students in Gaza from leaving the territory after Egypt reopened the Rafah crossing for three days this week. The embassy said that Hamas prevented 115 Palestinian students studying abroad from leaving Gaza, claiming that they did not have coordination to cross. The students had received approval to cross from Egypt, the embassy said, but Hamas authorities accused the embassy of failing to coordinate their permits.
Gaza children protest Israeli siege
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 22 Jan — Dozens of Palestinian children protested against the Israeli siege on the Gaza Strip at the coastal enclave’s port on Wednesday, hoping to highlight the effects of a blockade entering its eighth year. “We are here to remind the world to uphold its responsibilities and open the Rafah crossing to Gazans,” Israa Khalil, one of the protesters, told Ma‘an, noting that all six of the other border crossings connecting Gaza to the outside world are closed. Khalil added that even Rafah is “constantly closed and is only open under what is called ‘good intentions.'” She also expressed her hopes that Gazan children would be able to live decent lives like children in other parts of the world. The protest came as part of a series of rallies across the Gaza Strip designed to draw attention to the Israeli siege and how it has prevented the reconstruction of Gaza in the wake of Israel’s 50-day summer war that destroyed tens of thousands of homes.
175 tons of UAE aid set to enter Gaza via Egypt
CAIRO (Ma‘an)21 Jan — Egyptian authorities on Wednesday were preparing to ship large quantities of humanitarian aid from the United Arab Emirates to the Gaza Strip. An Egyptian security official told Ma‘an in Cairo that 175 tons of humanitarian aid from the UAE arrived Tuesday evening at El-Arish in North Sinai district. The shipment includes food, medicines and medical equipment. The cargo was then shipped to the Egyptian side of the Rafah crossing to be delivered to the Gaza Strip. On Tuesday, 30 tons of humanitarian aid from Saudi Arabia were delivered to the Gaza Strip as well as 13 packages of medical aid from the Egyptian Red Crescent Association. The shipment was under the supervision of the UAE Red Crescent.
UN says cash to repair Gaza homes will run out by end-month
LONDON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) 22 Jan by Astrid Zweynert — The U.N. agency in charge of aiding Palestinians will run out of money by the end of January to repair homes in Gaza damaged in the 2014 war with Israel, worsening an already dire humanitarian situation, an agency spokesman said on Thursday. The United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) said it had received only $135 million of an estimated $720 million needed to rebuild and repair destroyed and damaged homes and for rent subsidies for people made homeless by the conflict. “Because of this shortfall, we’re going to be forced to suspend the program by the end of the month,” UNWRA spokesman Christopher Gunness told the Thomson Reuters Foundation. “Our concern is the humanitarian impact this would have on the people of Gaza,” he said by telephone from Jerusalem … More than 14,000 people driven from their homes by the conflict still live in schools run by UNWRA, while others live in makeshift shelters or prefabricated housing units, or homes so badly damaged that they are exposed to the elements.
In Photos: Gaza’s shattered families
EI 20 Jan by Anne Paq — Ibrahim Kilani, his wife, Taghrid, and their five young children all perished in a single Israeli airstrike on a Gaza City residential tower last summer. Ibrahim was an architect who had spent more than twenty years in Germany. Except for Taghrid, the family all had German passports. But this did not protect them from the strike, and Germany has made no visible effort to seek justice on its slain citizens’ behalf. Ibrahim and his family were not killed in their home in the northern town of Beit Lahiya but in a flat they rented in Gaza City. They thought they would be safer there. After all, they were only following the instructions of the Israeli army, which had dropped leaflets in their area instructing residents to flee to Gaza City. When I visited the family’s Beit Lahiya flat in September 2014, it was still full of their personal belongings, as if they left the place for just a little while. Blueprints of Ibrahim’s latest plans still lay on his desk. – Entire families killed – The Kilanis were not the only family to be wiped out in Gaza last summer. According to the United Nations monitoring group OCHA, 142 families lost at least three members in Israel’s military assault. During the terrifying nights of bombings, families typically gathered in a single room. There was a high probability that a large number of people from the same family would be killed in direct strikes.
One family, three dead, three maimed: ‘Black Friday’ in Gaza
Ynet 24 Jan by Elior Levy — The al-Namlah family fled the intense fighting that followed Hamas’ truce violation and abduction of an IDF soldier during the summer war, but they did not get far enough — … Several Palestinian residents of the southermost Gaza city of Rafah were wounded that morning – a large portion of them had no relation to the fighting, yet found themselves out of luck due to their close proximity to the area where the incident occurred. Very little has been reported in the Israeli media on those Palestinian residents and hell they endured that day. Wael al-Namlah, 26, a married father of two, was one of those unlucky Palestinians. That same Friday morning, al-Namlah and his family were optimistic following a ceasefire announcement, and could not predict the terrible violence that was still to come. “During those days, my sister, brother and his family stayed with us because they were scared and we wanted to be close to one another,” al-Namlah tells Ynet. The explosions that came in the aftermath of the [Goldin] incident happened close to the al-Namallah home, and soon after two artillery or tank shells landed nearby. Debris from the explosions hit the entrance to their building and the stairwell. “The children began to cry and shake,” says al-Namlah. “We realized that we needed to flee, to get far away. We picked up the children and left the building. There were more people in the street. “You run as a group – everyone and his family – and you see others escaping too,” he says.“You see the hysteria of the children, destruction, and mushroom clouds, and you try to get as far away from them as you can. “The family managed to get 600 meters away from their home when they heard an explosion. Two rockets launched from IAF aircraft hit the family. “It was a direct hit. Not next to us, not on a car, not on a home. The rockets hit us,” he says. The outcome was catastrophic. Al-Namlah’s 11-year-old sister Nagham, his brother Yusef and Yusef’s wife were all killed. Two of his brother’s children were seriously wounded. Al-Namlah had one leg blown off, as did his three-year-old son Sharif. His wife Asraah lost both of her legs. Al-Namlah’s daughter Shahd suffered multiple burns – but she was the only family member who did not have any limbs severed … “We need help to get out of Gaza and receive medical treatment anywhere possible, because in Gaza the hospitals are unable to take care of us,” says al-Namlah, who is now in a wheelchair.
Report: Summer assault on Gaza caused more civilian deaths
IMEMC/Agencies 22 Jan — A new report has found that Israel’s indiscriminate military offensive during its latest war on the besieged Gaza Strip, this past summer, caused more civilian casualties than previous acts of aggression against the coastal enclave. The report, which was partly commissioned by Physicians for Human Rights and conducted by eight independent medical experts, showed that the Israeli regime did not differentiate between military targets and civilian populations during its latest assault on Gaza, according to Press TV/Al Ray. “Attacks were characterized by heavy and unpredictable bombardments of civilian neighborhoods,” said the 237-page report, which was published on Tuesday … The Israeli military failed to give adequate warning for Palestinians to leave residential areas before assaulting them, the report said, adding that the Tel Aviv regime’s “early warning” procedures were not consistent and, often, did not give enough time for evacuation. The report also pointed to suspected violations of humanitarian law and indiscriminate attacks which left medical workers dead, and urged a full investigation into the 50-day offensive. The study was based on visits to the Palestinian territory during and after the Israeli aggression. It also used interviews with 68 people who suffered injuries during the war, as well as autopsies on nearly 400 people killed and the review of medical files.
Gaza to stop importing poultry from West Bank, Israel
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 22 Jan — Gaza’s Ministry of Agriculture on Thursday decided to stop importing poultry and other livestock from the West Bank and Israel via the Kerem Shalom crossing following an outbreak of bird flu. Zakariya al-Kafarneh, General Director of the Veterinary Services of the ministry, told Ma‘an that the decision was made to protect against the spread of bird flu to the coastal territory. Gaza is nearly entirely self sufficient in poultry, producing enough chickens for 90 percent of local demand, while 10 percent is imported, he added.
Gaza water desalinization plants cause severe health risks
GAZA CITY 22 Jan by Rasha Abou Jalal — The lack of supervision over water desalination plants and the Israeli siege contribute to the contamination of drinking water available to Gaza’s residents — The poor supply of water in the Gaza Strip has pushed many unemployed to establish water desalination plants; the water is then distributed to households in private tank trucks. These plants have become the only choice for drinking water for many Gazans, at a time when the political situation and repeated wars have hindered the completion of all international projects aimed at meeting Gaza’s need for drinking water. Ali al-Mabhouh, owner of a water tank truck in the Nasr neighborhood in western Gaza City, said that his work has saved him from unemployment as he is the only provider of his family of four. “I work at a private desalination plant, EQWA, along with 60 other workers, and we distribute desalinated water in our private tank trucks to homes,” he told Al-Monitor … Mohamed Rizk, the owner of a water desalination plant in northern Gaza, told Al-Monitor on condition of anonymity that many plants are operating illegally, without any regulation on the desalinated water that is being sold to citizens. “There is a lack of supervision over desalination water plants and some of them are illegally established. These stations are not only selling unhealthy water, but they are also depleting groundwater in unlimited quantities, and dispose of their waste in a nonenvironmental manner by burying it in the sand or dumping it into the sea, thus contaminating soil and seawater,” Rizk told Al-Monitor … For his part, Tibi confirmed again that many problems mar the water desalination process. “After desalination, the water becomes unhealthy and demineralized with a microbiological pollution rate of 18%, which could cause many diseases for consumers in the long run, including kidney disease and osteoporosis,” he said. The European Union and UNICEF opened in March 2014 a project to build a desalination plant to turn seawater into fresh drinking water in the Gaza Strip, at a cost of an estimated 10 million euros ($11.7 million) … Palestinians are eagerly waiting for the completion of these stations to be finally able to consume fresh drinking water. However, Sheblak fears that these projects have a long way to go given the acute electricity crisis plaguing the Gaza Strip.
Charlie Hebdo finds support in Gaza
GAZA CITY (Al-Monitor) 20 Jan by Asmaa al-Ghoul — The victims of the Charlie Hebdo attack found sympathy in Gaza, until Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu participated in the Paris unity march and the magazine published a cover with a depiction of the Prophet Muhammad. Gaza remembers the entire world, but the world does not remember Gaza. This is what went through my mind when I saw Facebook users from the Gaza Strip declaring their solidarity with French magazine Charlie Hebdo. Many have condemned the storming of the magazine’s headquarters and the killing of cartoonists in the name of defending Islam since the incident occurred on Jan. 7. Youth activist Mohammed Matar, known as Abu Yazan, wrote on his Facebook page: “As a Muslim, I find the murder of innocent people more despicable and offensive than any cartoon could ever be.” In addition, a photo circulated on social networking sites showing a group of children in Gaza holding signs in solidarity with Paris, as well as another photo of a girl from Gaza carrying a sign that read: “Not in my name.” Activist Majed Abusalama uploaded a picture that read “Je suis Charlie” on his Facebook page, along with poignant words condemning the killing of innocent people. Everyone expects puritanical reactions from Gaza because it is under the rule of Hamas, the Islamic resistance movement. However, its reaction this time was exactly the opposite. Gaza’s experience with three wars in seven years, during which thousands have lost their lives due to the Israeli war machine, is enough for it to feel solidarity with others. Hamas itself published a statement on Jan. 10 condemning the Charlie Hebdo incident
Gaza’s brain drain
GAZA CITY (Al-Monitor) 21 Jan by Mohammed Othman — Hamas officials see the flight of professionals and talented youth from the Gaza Strip as part of a systematic Israeli policy to empty the territory of skilled citizens through siege and regular wars — …Some news reports claim that thousands of Gazans emigrated last year, including advanced degree holders, most recently a group of cardiac and neurosurgeons. Al-Monitor contacted several governmental and international agencies to obtain accurate statistics on emigrants from the Gaza Strip over the past year or earlier, but they all said that they have not kept records.“I communicated with a Canadian lawyer who told me that there are hundreds of immigration applications from Gaza to Canada, and all the applicants are the best minds and competencies. And it is well known that Canada opens the door to those, and I am one of those who applied to immigrate to Canada,” Otal said. Otal said that a committee on Gaza youth issues distributed a questionnaire throughout Gaza to collect young people’s opinions on immigration. It found that more than 90% of Gaza youth wish to emigrate from the Gaza Strip.
Hamas lawmaker accuses PA of ‘attempting to make Gaza kneel’
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 24 Jan – A Gaza-based Hamas lawmaker on Saturday accused the Palestinian Authority of aggravating the suffering of Gaza residents by adding enormous taxes on the fuel which runs its sole power plant. In a statement, Atif Udwan, who chairs an economic committee in the Palestinian parliament, said the PA adds 130 percent tax “to enrich its budget at the expense of Gaza and its pains and blackout.” Udwan even accused the PA of “being a direct partner with the Israeli occupation Gaza blockade and suffering as a punishment to the residents for their support to resistance.” The defiant lawmaker added that the firm will and resolution of the Gaza resistance would foil “PA attempts to make Gaza kneel.” These attempts, he added, are practiced through intensifying blockade, closing crossings, escalating the power crises, refusing to pay salaries and impeding the reconstruction process.
Unidentified assailants blow up Fatah leader’s car in Gaza
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 22 Jan — Unidentified assailants blew up a car belonging to a Fatah leader in Gaza City early Thursday. Witnesses told a Ma‘an reporter that a vehicle belonging to Ahmad Alwan went up in flames after a flammable substance was poured on it. Palestinian police subsequently arrived at the scene of the incident and launched an investigation. The incident is the latest in a series of attacks on the cars and homes of Fatah leaders in the Gaza Strip, where many are angry over the failure of the Fatah-dominated PA to hold Israel accountable for its promises to ease the blockade. The incidents have triggered angry exchanges between Hamas and Fatah leaders, potentially endangering the unity government that was agreed upon in April after seven years of political division between the West Bank and Gaza.
Gaza bombings deepen Hamas-Fatah rift
Al-Monitor 21 Jan by Adnan Abu Amer — Fatah believes Hamas is behind the recent spate of explosions in the Gaza Strip in an effort to add pressure on the Palestinian unity government — Several security incidents took place Jan. 9 in the Gaza Strip — including the bombing of a Bank of Palestine ATM in Gaza City, the destruction of the bank’s surveillance cameras in the Deir al-Balah branch in central Gaza, the bombing of a generator that provides electricity to the residence of government spokesman Ihab Bseiso and the robbery of a storehouse belonging to the telecommunications company. These bombings were followed by phone threats to several government ministers Jan. 10, saying, “It is only you who bear responsibility for Abbas’ gang’s mockery, and before you crush the heart of 50,000 employees we will crush yours.” … Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri condemned the incidents on Jan. 9, viewing them as tampering with the Palestinian institutions and security. Zuhri demanded that security agencies unmask and bring the perpetrators to justice … Fatah is unconvinced by Hamas’ condemnations, instead considering Hamas responsible for the incidents, as it is the only party in charge of security in the Gaza Strip.
Restrictions on movement
West Bank victims stand before UN probe committee in Amman
AMMAN (PIC) 22 Jan — A UN inquiry committee has summoned Palestinian victims to the Jordanian capital Amman to listen to their testimonies about their exposure to violations in the West Bank during Israel’s last war on the Gaza Strip. The victims were taken to Amman in cooperation with human rights and media organizations after the Israeli occupation authority did not allow the committee to enter the occupied Palestinian territories. The committee held sessions on Tuesday and Wednesday to listen to the victims and document what had happened to them during that period. The committee is a team of human rights experts led by Canadian lawyer William Schabas.
‘Deliver the bride to the groom, President Abbas’
Middle East Monitor 23 Jan — A social media campaign has been launched by a young Palestinian and his fiancée to bring their situation to public notice. “Deliver the bride to the groom, President Abbas” is a heartfelt call on officialdom to allow the couple to be together. For four years, Rashed and Dalia have been unable to complete their marriage ceremony due to the policy that separates Gaza from the West Bank. Their story has been played out in Nablus’s high mountains in the occupied West Bank and the alleyways of Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip. The sea brought the couple together years ago, but then politics cut them off from each other. “The crossings are closed, everything is closed,” said Dalia, “and there are no open windows for us. I am only asking for my human rights.” Dalia has not allowed frustration and depression to affect her feelings. She has found a window for herself on social networking sites … Although it has already received a lot of attention in the social media, it has tended to be amongst friends and relatives, so the campaign has not moved their case forward … Dalia and Rashed’s story is one of thousands about similar individuals and families who have been torn apart by politics and lost in the Palestinian Diaspora. Social media is providing the window to bring people together, but it needs someone of influence to make a real difference. “Deliver the bride to the groom, President Abbas.”
Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Judaization
Israel carries out 3rd East Jerusalem home demolition in 2 days
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 21 Jan — Israeli authorities on Wednesday destroyed a Palestinian building in the Shu‘fat neighborhood of East Jerusalem, the third such home demolition in the occupied city in the last two days. Locals told Ma‘an that Israeli special forces accompanied by bulldozers raided the neighborhood and surrounded a building before almost immediately beginning to demolish it. At the same time, local residents and journalists on the scene were prevented from approaching the area. Sources told Ma‘an that the Israeli authorities claimed the demolition was related to “security purposes” and was carried out because the structure was constructed without a license. Local Walid Bishara told Ma‘an that the building belonged to the Bishara, Mukheimar and al-Mashni families and that it was built a year and a half ago. Bishara added that after the building was completed, Israel prevented the families from moving into it and then issued the demolition order. “They ordered us to seal the building until we get a license in order to make sure it did not get demolished.” “We sealed the building and did not use it for any purpose,” he told Ma’an. “We worked on getting a license issued but we did get initial approval, but several Israeli courts ruled to demolish the building because of security reasons and the latest ruling was issued by the Israeli central court.” The building consisted of two floors with four apartments in total and it cost 500,000 shekels to build ($127,000), in addition to more than $40,000 (158,000 shekels) that the families paid to get the licenses and to delay the demolition orders.
The incident was the third such demolition carried out in the last two days. Earlier on Wednesday, Israeli forces raided the neighborhood of Jabal al-Mukabir in East Jerusalem and demolished a home that was intended to house a local pair that was engaged to be married [Ulayyan Jalal Rabaya and his fiancée]. Around 150 demolition orders are pending in the Jabal al-Mukabir neighborhood, a local official told Ma‘an. On Tuesday, meanwhile, Israeli forces stormed the East Jerusalem town of al-‘Isawiya before dawn and demolished a Palestinian house allegedly being built without a license from the Israeli municipality of Jerusalem.
Israel displaces 77 Palestinians, mostly children, in three days
NEW YORK (WAFA) 23 Jan — The United Nations Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator, James W. Rawley, Friday confirmed that in the past three days alone, a total of 77 Palestinians, over half of them children, have been become homeless. He expressed his concern over the Israeli authorities’ recent spate of demolitions of Palestinian homes in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem. According to Rawley, “demolitions that result in forced evictions and displacement run counter to Israel’s obligations under international law and create unnecessary suffering and tension.” Homes’ demolitions must stop immediately, Rawley demanded in a press release that WAFA received. UN’s concerns stem from the fact that some of the demolished structures were provided by the international community to support vulnerable families. Rawley explained, “At least eight of these structures were funded by international donors.” Since 20 January, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) has recorded the Israeli authorities’ demolition of 42 Palestinian-owned structures in the Ramallah, Jerusalem, Jericho and Hebron governorates. In addition to those displaced, 59 Palestinians were affected, mainly due to the demolition of structures essential for their livelihood, mostly animal shelters.
Israeli settlement asks Hebron man to pay property tax
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 21 Jan — The council of the Jewish-only settlement of Kiryat Arba in Hebron has ordered a Palestinian local to pay property tax, claiming that his house is located on land belonging to the settlement. The Hebron-based group Youth Against Settlements told Ma‘an that Abdul-Karim al-Jaabari received warrants demanding he pay 88,200 shekels ($22,000) in Arnona, or property tax, to the Jewish-only settlement’s council. Al-Jaabari said the move was unprecedented in the occupied West Bank and was intended to force his family from their land. Settlers from Kiryat Arba have been attempting to expel him since 2001, he said. Issa Amro, coordinator of Youth Against Settlements, denounced the demand. “This is meant to give legal status to the illegal settlements which have been trying to claim legal custody over the lands under their control and the lands near these settlements.” Israeli settlements are built on land confiscated from Palestinians, either on privately owned lands or those that were previously communal state land.
Israeli forces detain a child and destroy four structures in the South Hebron Hills
SOUTH HEBRON HILLS, Occupied Palestine (OperationD Dove) 21 Jan — On January 20th, Israeli forces detained a Palestinian child near the village of Maghayir Al Abeed and demolished four structures in the Palestinian village of Ar-Rifa‘iyya in the South Hebron Hills area. At about 9.00 a.m. Israeli bulldozers started to tear down two houses and two animal shelters belonging to the Palestinian Rabai family in Ar-Rifa’iyya. The demolitions affected a total of twenty-five people, included ten children. The Municipality erected two tents to create temporary shelter for those affected, at least during the night … During the Ar-Rifa‘iyya demolitions, Israeli army and police jeeps reached the area of Old Havat Ma’on Hill near the Palestinian village of Maghayir Al Abeed, where some young Palestinian shepherds were grazing their flocks. An Israeli soldier ran to a Palestinian child, aged 14. The soldier chased away his flock, placed him inside the military jeep with one goat and detained him. After one hour, the Israeli army released him in a dangerous area between the illegal outpost of Havat Ma’on and the illegal settlement of Ma’on. In this place several times, Palestinians, including children, were attacked by Zionist settlers.
French NGO completes protection project in West Bank
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 22 Jan — A French NGO supported by the European Commission has completed five projects with village councils in the northern West Bank, the group said Thursday. Première Urgence – Aide Médicale Internationale implemented the projects aiming to rehabilitate private and public infrastructure in five villages of Nablus, Qalqilya and Salfit districts. The areas were damaged or at risk to be damaged by settler attacks, and other projects aimed to rehabilitate roads in order to improve access to agricultural lands located in access-restricted areas. “These activities are implemented within the Humanitarian Aid Program framework developed by PU-AMI, which aims at preventing and mitigating the impact of violations of individual and collective fundamental rights on the livelihood of Palestinians,” PU-AMI local head of mission Mathieu Ebbesen-Goudin said. He also said: “Settler violence, access restrictions, and the greater issue of settlements existence and expansion, all contribute to the loss of livelihood for Palestinians. By preventing it and by mitigating its impact, we are seeking to enhance their resilience on those threatened lands.” In a statement, PU-AMI said it had rehabilitated a total of five agricultural roads and one water spring and built walls and protective fences around one cemetery and nine houses in the villages of Qusra, Immatin and Faraata, Kifl Hares, Yatma and Qaryout.
In light of the suspicious silence, crimes against humanity are being committed in the Negev
Middle East Monitor 22 Jan by Hani Habeeb — About a year ago, on 13 December 2013, the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office announced the cancellation of the “Prawer Plan” after the plan provoked the Arab population in Israel, especially the Bedouins in the Negev. This is due to the fact that the plan aimed to seize 800 acres of land from the Bedouins. Demonstrations took place in the areas with a high Arab population and a number of MK’s stood against this plan for various reasons and motives. In addition to this, a poll conducted by an Israeli research institute indicated that 47 per cent of Israeli Jews believe that the land that will be seized from the indigenous people actually belongs to the Bedouins of the Negev. All this led to the cancellation of this plan, despite the fact that the Knesset approved this law on 24 June 2013. This occurred about a year ago, but today, this plan is indirectly coming back to light. It has become clearer that the cancellation of the Prawer Plan was tactical and procedural and that it has been indirectly implemented in different ways. This occurred when the Israeli authorities established the “Authority for the Regulation of Bedouin Settlement in the Negev” in order to settle the Bedouin population in the Negev region, and it is evident from the name of this authority that the Israeli authorities consider the Negev Bedouins as settlers on the Israeli state’s territory, not the owners of the land. This new authority drew a plan which it began implementing a week ago….
Three women, one child ordered away from the Al-Aqsa Mosque
IMEMC/Agencies 22 Jan — The Israeli Authorities decided, on Thursday evening, to deny access to the Al-Aqsa Mosque in occupied Jerusalem to three women and one girl for a period of 15 days. Earlier on Thursday, the Israeli army kidnapped Amani Tawil, 20, Nour Abu Sneina, 19, Bara’ an-Natsha, 17, ‘Abeer Odah and Hoor ‘Abdin, 14 years of age, near the main gates of the Al-Aqsa Mosque, for what the soldiers said was “chanting Allahu Akbar” (God Is Greater), while scores of Israeli fanatics stormed the mosque’s yards. All, except for ‘Abeer, have been released after receiving the official orders forcing them away from the mosque for 15 days, while ‘Abeer remained under interrogation without the right to legal representation. Three of them were detained, along with two other women, on Monday, and were released after several hours of interrogation. [Ma‘an: Lawyer Ramzi Kteilak said that an unidentified 28-year-old woman was taken to a police station in the Old City late Thursday, where she was assaulted by police officers who punched her in the head. She was released from custody but banned from the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound for three days until a court hearing on Sunday.]
Right-wing Jews try to perform prayers outside Aqsa
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 21 Jan — A group of right-wing Jews on Wednesday entered the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound and were denied access to the patio of the Dome of the Rock by security guards. Witnesses told Ma‘an in Jerusalem that “extremist settlers” tried to walk up to the Dome of the Rock to perform Jewish rites but security guards obstructed them and denied them access. The witnesses said some settlers tried to assault the guards.
Separately, Israeli police officers on Tuesday evening handed an official warrant to a 26-year-old woman, Rawiya al-Qawasmi, ordering her to stay away from the mosque for two weeks. Meanwhile, Israeli police decided to keep Suad Ubeidiyya in custody until she attends court.
200 Palestinians in Gaza to attend Friday prayers at Aqsa
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 23 Jan — Over 200 Palestinians from Gaza left the coastal territory on Friday to pray at the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, the Palestinian liaison office said. Most of the group are over 60 and left through the Erez crossing. On Oct. 5, some 500 Palestinians in Gaza prayed at the mosque for the first time since 2007, having been prevented by Israel from traveling to Jerusalem since that time.
Palestinian workers left broke as Israel freezes funds
RAMALLAH (Palestinian Territories) (AFP) 21 Jan by Hossam Ezzedine –– Palestinian head teacher Abdelhakim Abu Jamus has just given his last shekels to his daughter for school and has nothing left to feed his family of eight. Like tens of thousands of Palestinian public sector workers, he has not been paid since December after Israel suspended millions of dollars in tax revenues which should have been transferred to the Palestinian Authority, as punishment for joining the International Criminal Court. “I gave my daughter the last money I had and now I don’t know how we’re going to manage tomorrow,” said Abu Jamus who runs a school in the West Bank city of Ramallah.
Teachers forced to equip schools at their own expense as austerity bites West Bank
RAMALLAH (EI) 23 Jan by Patrick O. Strickland — Ghadeer Rabi cannot remember a time during her five-year career as a high school teacher that her salary was enough to support her family. Without her husband’s income, the thirty-year-old says she would not be able to survive. Rabi’s monthly paychecks are inconsistent, often coming as partial payments or none at all. The Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority “keeps promising us a lot, like raises, but we haven’t seen anything,” she told The Electronic Intifada. Rabi’s situation is not unique: the PA and public servants in the occupied West Bank have been at loggerheads for years. These problems show no sign of letting up, especially since Israel began withholding taxes it is supposed to transfer to the PA as part of the Oslo accords … Living with her husband and infant daughter in Ramallah, Rabi teaches at the local Deir Jarir Girls High School and Mughtarabe Elementary School in the neighboring area of al-Bireh. The schools’ classrooms — which are overcrowded with upwards of forty students each period — lack heating, air-conditioning and most basic supplies. Due to severe budgetary limitations, the twenty-eight teachers at Deir Jarir are often made to foot the bill for their own supplies, though more than 600 students attend the school….
Ten-year gap between Palestinian and Israeli life expectancy: report
EI 24 Jan by Adri Nieuwhof — The life expectancy of Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and Gaza is about ten years lower than that of persons in present-day Israel, according to a new report. Meanwhile, infant mortality and maternal death rates are also four times higher in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. The data compiled by Physicians for Human Rights-Israel (PHR-I) reveals the disparities in health, which the organization says are direct impacts of the Israeli occupation. It is important to note that the data used by PHR-I do not include 2014, the year of Israel’s massive assault on Gaza during which more than 2,200 Palestinians were killed. The comparison between Israel and the occupied West Bank and Gaza is also limited by the exclusion of East Jerusalem, which is part of the West Bank….
Arab parties announce joint slate for upcoming election
+972mag 23 Jan by Mairav Zonszein — In a bid to remain relevant with an increased electoral threshold, the three Arab parties and Communist party Hadash are to run on one list in the March 17 elections — In an unprecedented, historic move, Israel’s Arab parties Hadash, Balad, Ta’al and Ra’am announced late Thursday night that they will run on a joint slate named “The Joint List” in the upcoming March 17 election. The list will be headed by the Arab-Jewish Hadash party’s Ayman Odeh, who was elected party chairman last week, followed by Masud Ghnaim of the Islamist Ra’am and Balad’s Jamal Zahalka in third place. Ahmed Tibi (Ta’al) will take the fourth place, followed by Aida Touma-Sliman from Hadash, the first woman on the list. Abdel Hakim Haj Yahia (Ra’am) will take the sixth place, and Hanin Zoabi (Balad, and the second woman on list) will be placed number seven. Eighth place will go to Hadash’s Dov Khenin, the only Jewish member of the slate who is likely to be elected, followed by Ra’am’s Taleb Abu Arar … While the different Arab parties have historically run separately, a law spearheaded last year by Avigdor Liberman and Yair Lapid raised the election threshold to 3.25 percent (four seats), and effectively forced the parties to join forces in order to remain relevant. The new threshold has sparked a fierce debate about the possibility of giving an equal voice to all sectors of the Arab population, as well as the inclusion of Hadash’s Jewish members … Most of the surveys have the list projected to receive 11 Knesset seats. According to a recent +972 poll, nearly 70 percent of Arabs citizens said they intend to vote if the three existing Arab parties run on a joint list, a significant increase compared to 56 percent who voted in the 2013 elections.
Palestinians push to end Greek ‘occupation’ of patriarchate
RAMALLAH, West Bank (Al-Monitor) 20 Jan by Ahmad Melhem — Arab Orthodox youths in the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem are accusing ruling Greek monks of selling church land to Israel and discriminating against the Arab Christian flock — The Greek Orthodox Church in Palestine and Jordan is witnessing a movement akin to an intifada against Patriarch Theophilos III of Jerusalem, Palestine and Jordan over actions that organizers of the movement call “racist and wasteful.” On Dec. 27, the executive committee of the Arab Central Orthodox Council in Palestine and Jordan began a campaign against the patriarch, coinciding with his participation in Christmas celebrations. A number of protesters raised banners that read “unworthy” during sit-ins and marches organized in Bethlehem on Jan. 6 and posted “Theophilos is unworthy” on social networking sites.
Hamas military chief sends condolences to Hezbollah
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 22 Jan — The general commander of Hamas’ military wing Muhammad Deif sent a letter of condolence to Hezbollah chief Hasan Nasrallah after an Israeli airstrike on Syria killed six fighters from the group. Deputy chief of Hamas’ political bureau, Ismail Haniyeh, also sent a letter to the Lebanese group’s leader following the airstrike. In the letter, seen by Ma‘an, Deif said that resistance forces should join into one project against Israel, “the real enemy of the nation.” “As Israel continues with its arrogance and criminality, it has become a duty that all resistance forces of the nation run the forthcoming battle hand in hand in the occupied land.” Haniyeh offered his condolences to Nasrallah and the families of those killed. “The enemies thought that by assassinating commanders, they can break the nation’s will and resistance, but this policy is fruitless,” Haniyeh’s letter read.
Abbas declares 3 days of mourning Saudi king
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 23 Jan — President Mahmoud Abbas on Friday declared three days of mourning for Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah, who died overnight. Abbas will travel to Saudi Arabia to express his condolences.
Palestine, Russia sign bilateral agreements
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 22 Jan — Palestine and Russia signed two bilateral agreements on Thursday, Palestinian ambassador to Russia Faed Mustafa said. The agreements establish two joint committees to supervise economic cooperation between both countries and fight money-laundering. The economic committee will be chaired by ministers from both governments and will convene to increase investment between the PA and Russia.
It’s over – why the Palestinians are finally giving up on Obama and the US peace process / Zack Beauchamp
Vox 22 Jan — … Abbas told a story about Secretary of State John Kerry’s failed peace talks that differed greatly from what other participants have said publicly. But what was in many ways more important than the details of his story was the attitude it conveyed toward the US: a total collapse in trust. The senior Palestinian leadership has come to believe that the United States is utterly incapable of budging Israel in negotiations and thus of bringing peace. Long-simmering Palestinian frustration with America, which Palestinians have always seen as hopelessly biased towards Israel, has finally bubbled over. The new Palestinian approach is a sharp break with the past … When Abbas recounted his version of how peace talks combusted last spring, he did more than just reiterate the usual Palestinian complaints about the Israelis and Americans. Instead, he detailed a narrative that previously had not been widely reported of how he says the peace talks really ended: one in which the US promised to deliver a plan for peace but reneged. The Palestinians were left waiting for a deal that never came as Israel continued building the settlements that the Americans had promised they could stop or slow. “The thing that really drove [Abbas] nuts,” Ashrawi relates, “is that they blamed him for the talks’ collapse. In his view, it’s all the Israelis’ — and the Americans’ — fault.”
VIDEO of Netanyahu made at Ofra settlement in 2001
“Najib Alaoui: Netanyahu thought the camera had been switched off as he asked, so he proceeded to tell them what he really thinks and wants to do. Watch this to understand the agenda of his visits to the US.” [No reason to think he’s changed his mind since. Netanyahu be heard saying “America is something that you can easily maneuver and move in the right direction. And even if they say something … So then they say something, so what? 80% of Americans support us!”]
White House wary of expected Netanyahu Congress speech
WASHINGTON (AFP) 22 Jan — The White House on Wednesday gave an icy response to news that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been invited to address Congress next month, suggesting it would be a departure from protocol. “We haven’t heard from the Israelis directly about the trip at all,” White House press secretary Josh Earnest said. “The typical protocol would suggest that the leader of a country would contact the leader of another country when he is traveling there. That is certainly how President Obama’s trips are planned.” … The Israeli premier had been invited to address a joint meeting of the Congress by Obama’s Republican opponents.
Obama to Netanyahu: Stop pushing Congress toward new sanctions on Iran
Haaretz 23 Jan by Barak Ravid — Obama, Biden and Kerry would shun Israeli prime minister during his visit to Washington in March; ‘Netanyahu spat in our face. There will be a price,’ U.S. official says — U.S. President Barack Obama has demanded that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stop encouraging U.S. senators and congressmen to advance new sanctions legislation against Iran. A senior American official, who asked to remain anonymous due to the diplomatic sensitivity of the issue, said Obama gave Netanyahu this message during a telephone call on Monday, January 12. Obama stressed to Netanyahu that he is seeking to reach an agreement with Iran that will prevent it from obtaining nuclear weapons and assure the international community in a verifiable fashion that Iran’s nuclear program is for peaceful purposes only, the official added. But new sanctions legislation is liable to sabotage the negotiations that Obama and five other countries are conducting with Iran, the president said. He told the Israeli leader that should such legislation pass Congress, he intends to veto it. Obama also warned Netanyahu not to meddle in the battle he is waging against Congress over the sanctions legislation, the official said. This warning was issued more than a week before Speaker of the House John Boehner publicly invited Netanyahu to address a joint session of Congress. Netanyahu’s address, which will take place at the height of the battle between Obama and the Republican-controlled Congress, is expected to focus on the Iranian nuclear issue and what he sees as the need to ratchet up the pressure on Iran. At Netanyahu’s behest, both Israeli Ambassador to Washington Ron Dermer and members of AIPAC, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, have been urging members of Congress in recent weeks to advance legislation to impose new sanctions on Iran.
Netanyahu’s Congress stunt could cost Israel American support, US officials warn
Haaretz 23 Jan by Barak Ravid — The way Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Israel’s ambassador to the United States Ron Dermer have conducted themselves in relation to Netanyahu’s invitation to address Congress could discourage U.S. Secretary John Kerry from defending Israel in the international arena, American officials told the Washington Post on Friday. According to the Post, Dermer, who on Tuesday met with Kerry for more the two hours, did not mention Netanyahu’s plan to speak before Congress or House Speaker John Boehner’s public invitation, which was made public the following day. Senior U.S. officials warned that the breach of protocol on Netanyahu’s and Dermer’s part could have long-term consequences for the Israeli prime minister. “The bilateral relationship is unshakeable, but playing politics with that relationship could blunt Secretary Kerry’s enthusiasm for being Israel’s primary defender,” a source close to Kerry told the Post. “The secretary’s patience is not infinite.”